One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Relating to or denoting a case of nouns (in some languages, e.g., Basque and Eskimo) that identifies the subject of a transitive verb and is different from the case that identifies the subject of an intransitive verb.
- ‘In Kalaallisut (Greenlandic) for example the ergative case is used to mark subjects of transitive verbs and possessors of nouns.’
- ‘In the past tense configuration, however, the Pashto agreement system is ergative: the Agreement is verb - subject agreement with intransitives, but verb - object agreement with transitives.’
- ‘But the ergative subject is the subject and comes first.’
- 1.1 (in English) denoting verbs which can be used both transitively and intransitively to describe the same action, with the object in the former case being the subject in the latter, as in I boiled the kettle and the kettle boiled.Compare with inchoative
- ‘Two main linguistic features are analysed: the expression of causativity in ergative constructions and the expression of modality in’ projecting’ that clauses.’
- ‘Given the same function condition, stated above, the non-pivot ergative noun phrase of the second clause cannot be omitted under coreference with the pivot noun phrase of the first clause, hence its ungrammaticality.’
- ‘An ergative system is one in which the subject of an intransitive verb is treated grammatically like the direct object of a transitive verb, while the subject of a transitive verb is treated differently.’
1An ergative word.
- ‘In this language, the ergative is simply the oblique stem of the noun.’
- ‘Based on the traditional assumption that the ergative construction is the underlying construction and the ergative is the subject, the passive can be described as follows.’
- 1.1the ergative The ergative case.
- ‘The other case, the ergative, is used for the agent.’
- ‘Like the other case-marking postpositions in this language, the ergative is encliticised to the first word of the noun phrase.’
1950s: from Greek ergatēs ‘worker’ (from ergon ‘work’) + -ive.
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